The Arkansas Senate on Monday voted 25-9 in favor of measures to prevent the release of information that could identify manufacturers and suppliers of drugs used during state executions.
The Senate justified its move to increase drug secrecy by citing a “well-documented guerilla war being waged against the death penalty,” where anti-death penalty advocates pressure pharmaceutical makers to “refuse to supply the drugs used by states to carry out death sentences.” By shielding the details about the drug cocktail used in executions, Arkansas seeks to reduce this pressure and re-establish its access to drugs necessary for lethal injections.
Opponents of the bill are disappointed by the lack of transparency this change would entail. If passed into law, the Arkansas Code § 5-4-617(i)-(l) would be amended to prevent disclosure to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act and in response to discovery under Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure. The bill would also introduce a new Class D felony for anyone who recklessly shares information that violates this imposed secrecy.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson supports this new legislation. The bill now goes to the Arkansas House for consideration.